Vintage Guitar - July 2016 - Open - 54
while maintaining a largely
blues-based rock repertoire.
Bishop withdrew from
the scene in the late '70s, but
resurfaced in '88. Signing with
Alligator Records, he returned
to his blues roots but retained
his cornpone persona on Big
Fun, featuring Dr. John on
piano, and delivered some of
his finest playing on Don't Let
The Bossman Get You Down
('91). Ace in the Hole ('95),
while critically panned as
his least consistent Alligator
album, contained landmark
guitar moments on instrumentals "Driving Wheel,"
"Blue Flame" and "Fooled
Around and Fell in Love."
He finished the decade with
The Skin I'm In and induction
into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall
of Fame in '98.
Bishop began the new millenium with his 2000 Smokey
Smothers session and after
a five-year absence released
Gettin' My Groove Back. He
switched labels in '08 and
recorded the star-studded
The Blues Rolls On for Delta
Groove, winning a Grammy
nomination among other accolades. By this point, Bishop
was part of musical Americana mentioned in songs by
Charlie Daniels and Molly
Hatchet. "Fooled Around and
Fell in Love" became a recurring song in TV and movies,
covered by Rod Stewart, T.G.
Sheppard, Mark Wills, and
Henry Lee Summer. Bishop
morphing it with the frequent addition of the ninth E.
This evocative excerpt from Bishop's improvisations in
continued the momentum
This hexatonic melody appears in measures 2, 4-5, and
"East-West" exemplifies his mixture of modal jazz and
with Red Dog Speaks (2010),
9-11. Note the use of blues elements like string bending
blues ingredients over a latin rock groove. The basic
a characteristically eclectic
and vibrato, the polarity of major and minor in his lines
tonality is a single-chord vamp on Dm7 (occasionally
blues album with good-time
(F and F# in 6 and 13) and characteristic figures like the
hinting at the closely related D7#9) acting a funky
rock and roll, doo-wop, R&B,
counterpart of a pedal point or raga drone. He takes
cadence melody in 14. Rhythm concerns are prominent
zydeco, and gospel tangents.
advantage of the implicit harmonic freedom to produce
in Bishop's style; check out the the wide-triplet sequence
The Blues Foundation nomia statement that is unrestrained, fluid, and adventurous.
in 4-6 as well as the syncopation and shifted rhythmic
nated That's My Thing for
While the overall impression connotes the Dorian Mode,
displacements in 9-13. This jazz-based type of rhythmic
Best Blues DVD of 2012.
Bishop consistently exploits the D-minor pentatonic
manipulation was later found in Robbie Krieger's "light
Can't Even Do Wrong Right
scale as an inherent blues sound within the diatonic scale
My Fire" solo and many Santana improvisations.
(2014) furthered his ascent
and featured Thomas and
Hall of Fame. He is scheduled for induction
Showing no signs of slowing, Bishop is
In 2015, Bishop was nominated for six into the Blues Hall of Fame on May 4, 2016, still the relentless blues crusader, currently
Blues Music Awards, winning three, and later with Eddie Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John on the bill for numerous national festivals
that year was inducted to the Rock and Roll Mayall, and Memphis Jug Band.